With limited travel opportunities this year and stuck at home we all suffer from some kind of (healthy!) fever: PLANT FEVER! More than ever, we adopt plants and learn how to care for them while we work, eat, live, socialize virtually, all from the comfort of our homes. Plant Fever is also the title of this interesting exhibition at the CID Grand Hornu in Belgium, that focuses on the hidden potential of plants. The exhibition “Plant Fever Towards a Phyto-centred Design” curated by studio d-o-t-s, explores how designers, artists and engineers incorporate plants and plant derived materials in their work and how plants function as resources, pets and allies.
PLANTS AS RESOURCES
Plants are essential to our survival on Earth. Not only do we need them to breathe and eat, but we also depend on them to dress, shelter, and heal ourselves. Their features constitute the basis for practical ancestral know-how, and the materials they provide us with are at the core of our economies. Yet, despite this, we often disrespect and overexploit them to the detriment of both human and non-human communities. Lately, however, the consequences of our behaviours have prompted several designers to reconsider their role in the wasteful consumerist society we live in. Alarmed by the growing Climate Emergency, many of them are now exploring more holistic approaches to the material resources we make use of. Compostable vegetal matters are slowly replacing plastics, projects seeking symbiotic relationships with plants are on the rise and objects repurposing by-products of non-virtuous monoculture models are blooming.
PLANTS AS ALLIES
The recent findings that suggest that plants are sentient beings; the ongoing climate crisis linked to the Anthropocene; the ethical debate around artificial intelligence, plant engineering and synthetic biology: all these new perspectives are shaking up the Western world’s vision of human supremacy over everything else, including the vegetal realm. Informed by novel scientific discoveries and stimulated by growing moral concerns regarding non-human beings, designers, artists and engineers have started to look into the uncovered capabilities of plants to imagine a future in which thinking like them and collaborating with them could become the new norm. While in most cases their goals remain closely human-centred, these explorations are leading the way towards a more vegetal-conscious approach to design which goes beyond plant’s instrumentalisation and mechanisation.
PLANTS AS PETS
Helped by the advent of modern architecture – which provided suitably open, bright and warm interiors – in the course of the 20th century plants have become ubiquitous in our domestic and office environments where they have been assigned a mainly decorative role. Since the early 2010s, though, the motivations driving us towards the vegetal kingdom seem to have shifted away from the merely ornamental. Plants have become therapeutic feel-good companions that help us escape the alienating condition of urban life. Described by some as symptomatic of the millennials’ generation and its widespread use of social media, the current trend of lushlyvegetated interiors mixes the desire for highly Instagrammable settings with a sincere thirst for botanical knowledge and a need to embrace otherness. Sensitive to this change, designers have started to invent DIY devices meant to reconnect us with plants and to create pots and containers intended for precise specimens.
It’s possible that you recognize the Phytophiler by Studio Dossofiorito below (we wrote about it here). Admiring your plants from the magnifying glasses is truly magical… as long you don’t spot thrips, mealy bugs or other pests!
The Phytophiler by Dossofiorito:
Team studio d-o-t-s: Olivier Lacrouts et Laura Drouet:
Curatorship: Laura Drouet (studio d-o-t-s) (pictured above!)
Scenography: Benoît Deneufbourg
Graphic identity: Matthieu Visentin
Coordination: Olivier Lacrouts (studio d-o-t-s)
Direction: Marie pok
CID team: Martine Acar, Shahrazad Ameur-Merabet, Marine Babic, Dominique Blondiau, Sophia Bouarfa, Aubane Brebant, Christopher Broyart, Jeoffrey Bultez, David Buyle, Giuseppe Cannella, Laetitia Centritto, Maryvonne Colle, Matteo De Felice, Brigitte Delattre, Gaëtan Delehouzée, Véronique Demebski, Filip Depuydt, Massimo Di Emidio,Françoise Foulon, Sophie Gallez, Céline Ganty, Loïc Goemaes, Marianne Jayé, Laurence Lelong, Hervé Liénard, Maxime Mairesse, David Marchal, Vincenzo Mauro, Justine Mertens, Jean-François Paternoster, Thierry Pochet, Marie Pok, Carine Saber, Matteo Sciullo, Graziano Trovato, David Vilain, Maryse Willems, Cataldo Zitolo
Visit the exhibition until February 14 2021, at:
CID – CENTRE FOR INNOVATION AND DESIGN at Grand-Hornu
Site du Grand-Hornu
Rue Sainte-Louise 82
Photography by Tim van de Velde, unless stated otherwise.